Sunday, September 9, 2018

1945: (Directed by Ferenc Torok)***

(Here is the press release put out by Menemsha Films on this Hungarian film)

On a summer day in 1945, an Orthodox man and his grown son return to a village in Hungary while the villagers prepare for the wedding of the town clerk's son. The townspeople – suspicious, remorseful, fearful, and cunning – expect the worst and behave accordingly. The town clerk fears the men may be heirs of the village's deported Jews and expects them to demand their illegally acquired property back.

Director Ferenc Török paints a complex picture of a society trying to come to terms with the recent horrors they’ve experienced, perpetrated, or just tolerated for personal gain.

“I’ve been interested in this topic for 10 years now, ever since I read Gábor T. Szántó’s short story,” says director Török. “I was really interested in the time just after the war and just before the introduction of nationalization and Communism, when for a moment
there was an inkling of the possibility of democratic transition. Things could even have taken a turn for the better. Fascism was over but Communism had not yet begun; we tried to capture the atmosphere of those few years in this film.

“This is a period in Hungarian history that is not overly represented either in literature or in film,” continues Török, “instead, people focus on the Second World War itself or on the dictatorship of the 1950s, with these few intermediate years earlier. I wanted to present a social tableau that would portray life in Hungary just after the war.”

1945 was the opening night film of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival back in May, and more recently the film won yet another award, Best Foreign Film, at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival.

A superb ensemble cast, lustrous black and white cinematography, and historically detailed art direction contribute to an eloquent drama that reiterates Thomas Wolfe’s famed sentiment: ‘you can’t go home again."

I found the film slow moving, sporadically edited with the much-to-long scenes showing  the Jewish father and son walking about the wagon carrying the treasured  remnants to be buried. Still, this little yet startling film reveals an epic moment of tragedy, along with shameful human behaviour that continues to prove fools rule the world...wrongly. 

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